Daily Archives: February 16, 2009

It can’t happen here

Reader Krazy Kat sends this link to Calculated Risk and its “Deal of the Week”: a California condo that sold for 73% off its last selling price. The difference? The penultimate buyer paid no money down and was foreclosed on. This buyer paid cash. Times have changed.

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See it live! Well, videotaped, anyway

WABC story on Greenwich real estate woes here. Best line, as always, comes from Frank Farricker: “We used to think Greenwich was different from the rest of the country. Turns out, we’re just like everywhere else except … we’ve got nicer houses.” Hoo hoo hoo.

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Well it’s about time!

Nigeria is providing relief to all of us who have suffered losses from those dreadful email scams.

DR.JOHN WILSON

 

show details 10:17 AM (5 hours ago)
Reply
CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (CBN).
CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS: CBN HOUSE TINUBU SQUARE,
ELEKE CRESCENT-VICTORIA ISLAND,
MARINA LAGOS NIGERIA, WEST AFRICA.
P.O.BOX 55037 FALOMO IKOYI,MARINA LAGOS .
TEL/FAX: 234 1 7934460 / +234-709-306-9943

CONTACT AGENT:LARRY COLDSWAET
EMAIL ACCOUNT NAME:(mr.larrycoldswaet003@live.com)

DATE: 29/01/2009.

THIRD QUARTER PAYMENT FOR SCAM VICTIMS FUNDS#:MAV/NNPC/FGN/MIN/008.

ATTENTION: BENEFICIARY,

THIS IS TO BRING TO YOUR NOTICE THAT THE NIGERIAN SENATE HOUSE DELAGATED FROM
THE UNITED NATIONS HAS RESOLVED TO PAY 100 NIGERAIN 419 SCAM VICTIMS WHO HAS
LOST MONEY OR HAS BEEN HARRASED BY SCAM MAILS THE SUM OF $1,500,000 ONE MILLION
FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH .YOU RAE VERY LUCK TO HAVE BEEN AMONGST ONE
OF THE LUCKY ONE WHO
HAS BEEN PICKED FOR THIS QUATER PAYMENT AS ONE OF THE SCAM VICTIMS WHICH ARE
BEING COMPENSATED.

[and so on]

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Some sellers are trying to adjust

52 Pecksland Road, a smallish, 3 bedroom, 2 bath house on an acre, sold for $3.495 million in November 2005, right at the height of the market. I suspect that a 3 bedroom house, even on Pecksland, won’t be fetching that kind of moeny again for awhile but the new owners were more optimistic than I and listed it this past September for $3.995. Wrong move.

But now it’s down to $3.1 million. That may still not move it but for those skeptical readers who didn’t like my suggestion that people rent, rather than buy, here’s one couple that probably wishes it had.

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Yeah, but what about old lawyers?

From Instapundit:

SO I GUESS I DON’T HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT SELLING LAW DEGREES: 76% of Young Lawyers Are Happy With Their Career Decision.

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They’re coming to take me away today ho ho, ha ha

Zero Hedge reports that the Madoff Bankruptcy Trustee has subpoened records from Jeffries and Co. I can’t imagine what that small trading bank has done to attract attention but I’m sure they’ve displeased someone. I’m also pretty sure that this subpoena is just the first of many to come. Are you going to be home next week, Walt, or will Monica accept service on your behalf?

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If it’s good enough for the U.S., why not Venezuela?

Chavez vows to stay in power at least until 2019 to complete the transformation to socialism. Lucky Venezuelans. Lucky us.

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If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t (or can’t) move, tax it!

Legislators in Oregon propose a 1900% increase for beer tax. I neither drink beer nor live in Oregon so I have no dog in this fight but it sounds like something coming to Connecticut soon. Raising sin taxes seems so easy – the sinners already feel guilty so they don’t resist and the non-sinners figure they’re getting a free ride. But taxes hurt business (Oregon, it seems, has a nascent craft-brewing industry that would be walloped by this) and the money raised is never as much as promised nor does it go where the original tax authorization statutes claim it will. In this case, the Oregonians say they’ll use the money to pay for alcoholism treatment – right, so that, if they’re successful, they’ll lose all that tax revenue. Fat chance. If you recall, Connecticut, along with 38-40 other states, grabbed hundreds of millions of dollars from cigarette smokers under the guise of funding quit-smoking programs. They used the money instead to expand state spending in every other way imaginable and have spent exactly seventeen cents on smokers who’d like to quit. It was so successful that they’re sure to raise the tax again.

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51 North Stanwich

51-n-stanwichReader Gordon Gekko (caution – that may not be his real name) asked about this cottage. It’s a great little house. Sits on 1 acre in the RA-4 zone so you won’t be adding on to it but why would you want to? Built in 1900, sold for $1.5 million in 2004, renovated in 2007 and put up for sale in May ’08 for around $2.1 million. It’s now down in the $1.9s. I’m 5’10” and wouldn’t recommend it to people much taller than that but I certainly liked it and think it would be perfect for a couple or a single curmudgeon. If guests insist on showing up, there’s a cottage with bedroom, fireplace and perhaps its own kitchen – memory is hazy on that last item but if not, Domino’s delivers.

Good place. Price? Who can tell these days?

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WABC Update

Just heard from Frank Farricker, whom I sicced the TV guys on, reasoning that as a P&Z member he’d have even more dirt on the real estate scene than I do (plus, as one reader has so cruelly and unnecessarily pointed out, I have a face best suited to radio while Frank’s beamish looks are soooo telegenic). Frank took ’em over to a house that has sat forever and probably always will until it’s turned into a nursing home or, as he suggests, a country club, and I’m sure provided entertaining grist. The “article” – a full two minutes which in television land no doubt passes as full-depth reporting – will be on the 5:30 broadcast – maybe at 5:58? The reporter told Frank that they use “8-10 words” from each interviewee so it’s bound to be informative. Set your Tivo.

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No coal, no windmills off Robby Kennedy’s Compound

And in fact, no windmills at all – they’re killers! From Overlawyered.com:

“Acoustic radiation”

by Walter Olson on February 16, 2009

Some opponents of wind turbine farms in Maine say they’re concerned not just about audible noise but “low-frequency noise, so soft you can’t hear it,” from the installations, which they claim is linked to a wide array of health problems, not to mention “the strobe effect created by the sun setting behind the spinning blades, which some say can lead to seizures”. On an anti-turbine website, a New York doctor describes “acoustic radiation” as a mix of “audible sound, infrasound and vibration, in a pulsating character, that appear to trigger serious reported health problems in those families living near wind turbine installations.” State officials in Maine, on the other hand, would prefer to keep the focus on sound levels loud enough to actually be noticed:

The state’s chief medical officer has her doubts about turbine-related health effects. When it comes to potential hazards, “If anything, there’s evidence to put a moratorium on fossil fuels not on wind turbines,” Dr. Dora Ann Mills said Friday.

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Psst! Wanna buy a house?

A long walk off a short pier

A long walk off a short pier

In case you’re wondering, we now have 584 single family houses on the market, 169 of which are priced above $4.5 million. Four houses in that price category have gone to contract in the past 90 days, 15 in the past 6 months and 47 in the past 12 months. Readers with a long memory will recall that 12 months ago, there was still an active real estate market (although even at 47 per year, we’d have a 3.6 year inventory).

I assume that we’ll soon see some kind of pick up from the current four- sales-per-quarter rate, which is pretty dismal even for a recession. One hundred-sixteen $4.5 million + houses sold in 2007, 101 in 2006 and 107 in 2005, and if we come close to those numbers again, we’ll be in good shape. If not, we’re looking at a 10 1/2 year inventory of expensive houses and that would be interesting, eh?

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WABC is here

I can’t say I’ve ever blogged in front of a television camera before but it’s kind of cool (although my until-now -secret two-fingered typing method is being exposed). Just in case there are any real estate agents in town still willing to speak to me, today’s interview should end that relationship – I’ve spilled the beans – real estate in town isn’t selling the way it used to.

The cameraman (a former Byram boy, by the way) has now moved behind me, lighting up the keyboard and my (two) fingers are just flying. So much fun.

Will any of this make it to TV? Who the heck knows? If not, perhaps NPR will pick up the story. Okay, that’s it for stream of consciousness posting. Light’s are going out as I write this and the crew is off.

Update: 5:30 tonight!

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This isn’t a problem in Cuba

Coincidence? I think not. Eating meat more than once a week dooms our planet.

Another part of the problem is people are eating far more meat than they need to.

“Meat once was a luxury in our diet,” Pelletier said. “We used to eat it once a week. Now we eat it every day.”

If meat consumption in the developed world was cut from the current level of about 90 kilograms a year to the recommended level of 53 kilograms a year, livestock related emissions would fall by 44 percent.

“Given the projected doubling of (global) meat production by 2050, we’re going to have to cut our emissions by half just to maintain current levels,” Pelletier said.

“Technical improvements are not going to get us there.”

That’s why changing the kinds of food people eat is so important, said Chris Weber, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania.

Food is the third largest contributor to the average US household’s carbon footprint after driving and utilities, and in Europe – where people drive less and have smaller homes – it has an even greater impact.

“Food is of particular importance to a consumer’s impact because it’s a daily choice that is, at least in theory, easy to change,” Weber said.

So no more coal, and thus no more electricity and now we’ll just ration meat, sit in the dark and pass out granola bars. Kumbaya, y’all.

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Ye of little faith

A reader asked if 58 Parsonage Road really has an ice rink. Well of course it does! Perhaps not as large as Stevie Cohen’s regulation rink on Crown Lane and perhaps there’s no Zamboni machine (although I didn’t look) but it does have an ice rink, right alongside a gym that makes Gold’s look like a poor man’s calisthenics closet and a “home entertainment center” that, last time Iwas there, seemed a little obsolete – ya wanna keep up with your fellow IBers, you have to have the latest equipment. Or you used to – today, you can probably get away with hand silhouettes.

ice-rink

exercise-room

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Deep Pockets

The Greenwich MLS is closed today and there are no new listings or price reductions to amuse me so I thought I’d spend a little time checking in on the 79 houses currently for sale asking $7.5 million or more. Since none is moving, I wondered whether the sellers had made any concession to the market and dropped their price. To a surprising extent, they have not.

I did not check all 79 listings but rather picked a handful at random. It amazes me how many are still at their original price, six months or more after first being offered. And many of those that have seen price cuts have dropped just a million dollars which, from $9 million, doesn’t seem like much of a concession. There are a few notable exceptions. The Helmsley place was slashed $30 million but that’s to $95 million from an original $125 and I doubt many of us will be diving for our checkbooks to take advantage . Tommy Hilfiger’s Round Hill house has dropped from $28 million to $22, and poor old 309 Taconic from $31 million all the way down to $19 – they’re practically giving it away. 247 Byram Road, waterfront, has dropped $4 million from its first $12 million ask and I suppose that’s progress. That’s pretty much it (oh, there are a few more that come to mind, the spec house on Cornelia and the other spec on S. Baldwin are both down multiple – millions). Are all these owners really so financially secure that they can wait out this market and get their price at some undetermined time yet to come? They give that appearance, but I don’t believe it, especially of the spec builders. I think things will get interesting in the next few months.

But perhaps not. 21 Topping Road, a land parcel just down the hill from Leaona, failed to sell for $37.5 million way back in 2003. It’s been back on the market since last September demanding $49.5 million. So far, no sale and no price cut. No one’s going to steal that property!

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Overpricing is not new to this town

I see that 58 Parsonage Road, a good house on an acre and complete with an indoor ice rink so that your kid can eschew a career in investment banking and instead become a toothless sports star, is holding another open house tomorrow. Its price is $4.1 million now, down from $4.750 last April, but its stay on the market reminded me that this is at least the second time around for the place – both times, the owners have thought more of their house and its value than have buyers.

In September, 2003 this was listed for $5.995 million and slowly (well,  almost immediately) became an albatross around the neck of its succession of listing brokers and a source of amusement on open house day as we agents would drive by, see the open house sign and say, “my gosh, that place is still around!”. After three years it sold for 62% of its original price: $3.7 million. So as far back as 2003, some agents and owners were smoking dope – someone alert the DEA.

The new owner is not so obtuse and had the market not collapsed might be out from under his unwanted house by now with something perhaps approaching his desired price. But the market did collapse and now …? It’s a good house in a good location and there is that hockey thing going on, so someone will come along for this one. It just may take awhile, like every other house in town.

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The same news from all over

England: Property prices fly in the face of consumer sentiment. Someone’s kidding himself here – the buyer or the seller. My money’s on the seller as the deluded one but where would we be without optimists? Well, besides in a booming market, I mean.

(hat tip, the guy from New Hampshire)

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